Ray Allen isn’t only shooting 57% from the three-point arc against Miami this season. His mere presence also helps to neutralize one of Miami’s greatest strengths: the attacking nature of Dwyane Wade.
During four regular season meetings between the two teams, Wade averaged 12.8 points on 28% shooting. While the low field goal percentage certainly isn’t by design, coach Erik Spoelstra has asked Wade to take on a different mentality against Boston’s designated dart thrower. (ESPN’s Heat Index)
Wade is attacking the basket significantly less against Boston. According to Hoopdata.com, Wade has averaged 7.2 field goal attempts at the rim per game this season and 8.6 free throws. Against Boston, however, Wade has averaged just 5.5 attempts at the rim and 5.8 free throws.
Judging by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s words after Friday’s practice, they want Wade to be a different player. They want him to be a facilitator, rather than someone who attacks relentlessly.
“Dwyane showed a great maturity last game,” Spoelstra said. “[The Celtics] have been committed to keeping him out of the paint, taking the ball out of his hands and so last game we made an adjustment to not press but to play with more poise and often times, create something for somebody else. We were able to exploit some other things while he’s being aggressive but he’s not trying to force it and try to score 25. And that’s the balance we’ll have to find in this series.” …
“My role is totally different,” Wade said Friday. “I’m just trying to do the job that’s best for me to do. I think I got into that more last game even though I didn’t score a good amount. I was able to do other things on the floor. For me, it’s all about playing the game of basketball, playing good defense, rebounding the ball, and doing other things.”
The extent that guarding Allen takes away from Wade’s offensive game (while not slowing down Allen very much, if at all) could be another factor leading toward Wade defending Rondo in round two. As I noted yesterday, Wade did a better job on Rondo than any other Heat member this season. His athleticism allows him to play free safety off Rondo yet still contest Rondo’s drives to the hoop.
Then again, it’s not like Rondo’s a dandelion in transition, either. Maybe, then, we should expect a toned-down Wade in round two? Ehh, I doubt it. Perhaps it’s just me, but I can’t really see Wade (who was more or less on another planet against Boston last postseason, despite not having a single trustworthy teammate) deferring all series. If he does, the Heat lose one of their biggest strengths.
On another note, let’s give Ray Allen some serious credit here. It’s not often a player’s prolific shooting impacts how a superstar opponent approaches his own offense.